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BMW Z4: Buying guide and review (2003-2008)

BMW Z4: Buying guide and review (2003-2008) Classic and Performance Car
BMW Z4 3.0 BMW Z4 3.0 BMW Z4 3.0 BMW Z4 3.0 Coupe BMW Z4 3.0 Coupe
Launched in 2003, the BMW Z4 roadster was the long-awaited replacement for the extremely successful Z3 - BMW’s first foray into the mass-market two-seater sportscar segment. Controversial Chris Bangle-era styling, electromechanical power-steering and the adoption of run flat tyres met with some criticism at launch, but the well balanced handling and great range of engines ensured that the Z4 carried on its predecessors success story.

With its focus on handling and driving dynamics, the Z4 earned itself a reputation as a great drivers’ car, the M versions in particular are already becoming modern collectors cars. 
 
Which one to buy?
 
There are a large number of engine variations to choose from, however the basic running costs for the non-M six-cylinder models are quite similar, making the larger capacity variants – which provide a decent hike in power over the 2.2-litre cars – highly desirable. The 3.0-litre model in particular is a great compromise between the full-fat M variants and the lower models in the range, and was also the only non-M car that was made available in Coupe form. 

The Coupe, introduced in 2006, is a significantly rarer car than the soft-top. Thanks to the much more rigid body structure handling is even better, while there’s a slightly more usable luggage space in the back too. Ride quality on standard suspension is very firm, meaning that cars with sports suspension and big wheels can be surprisingly uncomfortable on anything other than smooth road surfaces. 

The base 2-litre four-cylinder cars are eager, and not much slower than the 2.2-litre models. They also use much less fuel and cost less to maintain, so if outright speed is not a priority then these models are a great compromise. 

At the other end of the scale, the M powered Z4 is a different proposition altogether. Using the 343bhp engine from the heavier E46 M3, and with a full M-spec suspension system, the Z4 M coupe and roadster models took the fight straight to Porsche and Mercedes. The award-winning engine is one of the all-time great naturally aspirated units, providing a raw edged driving experience that will leave you breathless. Running costs are relatively reasonable for a car of this type, although certain M specific components can be pricey - especially if sourced from BMW.

Gearbox options were five-speed manuals and automatics on the early cars, with the facelift introducing six-speed variants. The Sequential Manual Gearbox was made available on a limited number of the 3.0-litre cars and while fun when pressing on, they can be jerky in town driving.

There’s a huge choice whitch means that you can afford to be picky, and it’s absolutely worth driving a few different models. The driving experience between a base spec four-pot Z4 and a sporty three-litre model is surprisingly different.
 
Performance and specs
 
Engine 2996cc 24valve DOHC I6 
Power 261bhp @ 6600 rpm 
Torque 232lb ft @ 2750rpm
Top speed 155mph (limited)
0-62mph 5.7 seconds 
Fuel consumption 32.8mpg 
Gearbox Six-speed manual
Insurance group 44
 
Dimensions and weight
 
Wheelbase 2495mm
Length 4090mm
Width 1780mm
Height 1300mm
Weight 1385kg
 
Common problems

• Parts are readily available and many maintenance items can be sourced from specialists.

• Suspension systems are generally reliable, however the springs are prone to snapping especially at the rear. Front control arm bushes tend to wear out and can be noticed by loose-feeling steering and creaking noises. Strut braces on the rear can break at the weld seams and will require expensive repairs. 

• Electrical systems are reliable, however some owners have complained of erratic wipers requiring motor replacements, which can be costly. Test all the buttons and switches inside the vehicle in case anything is amiss. 

• The interior is well built and there are no specific issues however the seats do rub against the body when pushed right back and can cause irritating squeaks when driving. 

• Engines are long lasting and should be smooth and free revving, especially the six-cylinder models. Power steering pumps can fail on early cars and the cooling system needs to be serviced regularly. The water pump can fail if the correct coolant mixture is not adhered to. 

• On M cars, check that the 1200-mile run in service was done, as failure to do so has been known to result in excessive engine wear. Crankcase ventilation oil separators can clog up and cause damage to the engine, but replacement parts are not unduly pricey.

• On convertible cars check the roof mechanism for any signs of slow operation or creasing in the roof lining. There should be no water ingress so any leaks may indicate an issue with the alignment of the roof or the side window fitment.
 
Model History 


2003: BMW Z4 launched in 170bhp 2.2, 190bhp 2.5 and 228bhp 3.0 litre versions. Five-speed manual and automatic transmission choices available, with SMG gearbox option available on 2.5 and 3.0 litre cars
2005: 215bhp 2.5si and 261bhp 3.0si engines replace older units resulting in lower emissions and higher power outputs. Navigation and heated seats introduced as optional extras, and SMG gearbox now only available on 3.0-litre cars. 2.2i six-cylinder entry level option replaced with 150bhp 2.0l four-cylinder engine.
2006: Mid-life facelift with new colours, wheel choices and minor changes to lighting. Six-speed manual and automatic gearboxes now available. Z4 Coupe introduced with 3.0-litre 261bhp engine,as wells as M Coupe with 343bhp M division engine.
2008: Final E85/86 Z4 rolls off the line
 
Owners clubs, forums and websites
 
• www.bmwcarclubgb.uk
• z4-forum.com
 
Summary and prices

Prices start at £3000-£4000 for the earliest cars, and as long as they have solid service and maintenance histories they can carry on forever, so don’t be put off by higher mileages. £6000-£8000 will get you one of the later cars. M Coupes and M Roadsters range between £12,000-£25,000 with condition and mileage being the biggest influencing factors on these cars.
 
The first Z4 has proven to be a great second-hand buy with reasonable running costs and styling that has improved with age. There are a lot of cars out there with a spec level and price to suit most people. It’s also a great way of experiencing the last of the old school BMWs, built before the motoring industry’s move to turbocharging and flappy paddles, so buy one now and enjoy it while you still can.
 
Words: John Tallodi
BMW Z4 3.0 BMW Z4 3.0 BMW Z4 3.0 BMW Z4 3.0 Coupe BMW Z4 3.0 Coupe
Last updated: 4th Dec 2015
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  • BMW Z4 Z4 SI SPORT COUPE 2007

    £9,995 £9,995

    paddle shift gear change, air con, pas, cd, alarm, alloy wheels, sat nav, electric windows, service history, rare auto model, must be seen.

    • Mileage: 86000 mi
    • Engine size: 2.996
    For sale
    Bransons Cars
    01702 470400 VIEW CONTACT NUMBER
  • BMW Z4 sDrive20i M Sport

    £14,495 £14,495

    The release of the E89 saw the end of the Z4's naturally aspirated straight-six engines and the introduction of turbocharged four-pots. Under the bonnet of this example you'll find a 1997cc unit. The BMW TwinPower Turbo technology package for the sDrive20i includes twin-scroll turbocharging, High Precision Direct Petrol Injection, Valvetronic fully variable valve control, and Double-Vanos continuously variable camshaft control. Power is transferred to the rear wheels via a six-speed manual gearbox, and start/stop technology is standard.

    • Year: 2012
    • Mileage: 39154 mi
    For sale
  • BMW Z4

    £28,980 £28,980

    Variant name:Roadster M Sport ,Derivative:M Sport ,Variant: 18i sDrive M Sport 2dr [Nav] Auto BMW Z4 18i sDrive M Sport 2dr [Nav] Auto, 19" Double-spoke style 326 M alloy wheels, Sport's automatic transmission, Brushed Aluminium Trim, Seat heating, M Sport steering wheel w/ gearshift paddles, Comfort Package.

    • Year: 2017
    • Mileage: 10 mi
    • Engine size: 2
    For sale
  • BMW Z4 2.0 20i M Sport sDrive 2012

    £13,000 £13,000

    BMW Z4 MSport in fantastic condition, looks great with the top up or down. 62 plate with 44,569 miles on the clock. Full service history, hard top convertible with fully functioning electric roof. Luxury red leather interior, all in very good condition. 19" Alloy Wheels, 6 Speed Manual Gearbox, Adjustable Door Mirrors, Adjustable Steering Column, Alarm, Automatic Climate Control, CD Player, Cruise Control, Driver Airbag, Dual Airbags, Electric Folding Mirrors, Electric Front Windows, Front Centre Armrest, Front Fog Lights, Full colour front and rear parking sensors, Heated Front Seats, Immobiliser, iPod/MP3 Connectivity, Isofix, Leather Steering Wheel, Red Leather Trim, Outside Tempeure Indicator, Rain Sensitive Wipers, Remote Central Locking, Tilt/telescopic steering wheel, Traction Control 1 owner, Black.

    • Mileage: 45000 mi
    • Engine size: 1997
    For sale
  • BMW Z4 2.2 SE 2004

    £3,995 £3,995

    *PRICE REDUCED*WAS GBP 4450 NOW GBP 3995*JUST ARRIVED**PLEASE VISIT MKS CAR SALES 1 SINCLAIR STREET DD2 3DA*DUNDEE CITY APPROVED CAR DEALER*GREAT FINANCE DEAL*WRITTEN DETAIL S ON REQUEST* ;;**JUST HAD ALL 4 ALLOYS FULLY REFURBISHED**12 MONTHS MOT**JUST HAD FULL SERVICE**VERY CLEAN BODYWORK** ;;**2004(04)Bmw Z4 2,2 roadster convertible** ;**3 Months warranty** ;**12 Months Mot** ;**114,000 Miles drives really well** ;**Bodywork in outstanding condition** ;;FREE INCLUSIVE 3 MONTHS MECHANICAL WARRANTY APPLIES TO THIS VEHICLE FOR COMPLETE PEACE OF MIND SUPPLIED BY WARRANTY WISE - THE UK'S LEADING AUTOMOTIVE WARRANTY SUPPLIER! 3 MONTH'S BREAKDOWN/RECOVERY COVER inc! FREE DELIVERY WITHIN SCOTLAND ALL inc... ;;**PLEASE NOTE THIS BMW Z4 CAN BE VIEWED IN (DUNDEE) - WITH (NATIONWIDE) DELIVERY POSSIBLE BY ARRANGEMENT - PLEASE ASK FOR MORE INFO** ;;(P/Ex CONSIDERED) ;;**ALL MAJOR CREDIT/DEBIT CARDS ACCEPTED** ;;VIEWING POSSIBLE ANYTIME BY ARRANGEMENT - INCLUDING NIGHTTIME/WEEKENDS. ;;PLEASE (PHONE or TEXT) FOR ANY INFORMATION OR TO ARRANGE A VIEWING - (07446 489 174) ;;Central Locking; Side Airbags; Electronic Stability Program (ESP); Immobiliser; Passenger Airbag; CD Player; Alarm; Air Conditioning; Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS); Electric Windows; Driver Airbag; AM/FM Stereo; Power-assisted Steering (PAS); Alloy Wheels

    • Mileage: 114000 mi
    For sale
  • BMW Z4 ROADSTER SPORT 2009

    £8,999 £8,999

    BMW Z4 ROADSTER SPORT finished in Black (Manual), 54,000 miles with black full leather interior only 3 previous owners from new with Full Main Dealer Service History;Features include Rear Parking Sensors, Electric Mirrors, Alarm, Immobiliser, Power Assisted Steering, Digital Climate Control, Air Conditioning, Heated Seats, Multi Function Steering Wheel, Colour Coded, Traction Control, Front Arm Rest, CD Player, Metallic Paint, Remote Locking, Electric Windows, Alloy Wheels, Leather Interior.;Only GBP 8,999;Fantastic low rates of finance available. Includes 3 month comprehensive parts and labour warranty with an option to extend.;Part exchange welcome.;Please call 0117 9569393 for more information on this vehicle.

    • Mileage: 54000 mi
    • Engine size: 1.995
    For sale
  • BMW Z4 Z4 ROADSTER, ONLY 63K MILES and FSH, 2003

    £5,995 £5,995

    ** 60 Cars On Site From GBP 15 Per Week / O Deposit **;GOOGLE...... Boarhunt Car Sales .. ;;1 Minute Finance Proposal, Finance Subject To Status, Finance Approval within 1 Hour, Payable Monthly, Over 30 Years Experience, Poor Credit History Specialists, HPI Gold Check On All Cars, All Main Dealer Facilities, Same Day Driveaway, Parts and Labour Warranty Included, 5 Minutes From M27 Motorway, Major Credit / Debit Cards Accepted, All cars Bought, ;;** Burrfields Trade Centre LTD is Authorised and Regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority **;;Burrfields Trade Centre Ltd;T/A Boarhunt Car Sales;Behind Boarhunt Garage ;Robinson Way,;Portsmouth, Hampshire, PO3 5SA;;** Sundays by Appointment................ Call us : 02392 160 150 **;;Terms and Conditions:;While every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of the information on this website errors may occur. Please check with us any details which you feel may affect the viewing or purchase of any vehicles listed on this website. Thankyou.;;Sundays by Appointment, Please call 02392 160 150.;;Opening Hours:;Mo: 09:00 AM to 05:00 PM;Tu: 09:00 AM to 05:00 PM;We: 09:00 AM to 05:00 PM;Th: 09:00 AM to 05:00 PM;Fr: 09:00 AM to 05:00 PM;Sa: 09:00 AM to 05:00 PM;Su: Closed

    • Mileage: 63398 mi
    • Engine size: 2.979
    For sale
  • BMW Z4 BMW Z4 2.5 HIGHLINE M-SPORT EDITION 2011

    £14,993 £14,993

    RAC INSPECTED and APPROVED. Top Brand Cars Are Delighted To Offer This Stunning BMW Z4 M-SPORT HIGHLINE Automatic in Beautiful Metallic Silver, With Full Black Leather Sports , Automatic Air Conditioning with 2-Zone Control, Start-Stop Button, Tyre Puncture Warning System (TPWS), BMW Professional Radio with Single CD Player (with MP3 Playback Capability), AUX, DVD Preparation, Alarm System (Thatcham 1) with Remote Control, Kansas Leather Upholstery, Bluetooth Telephone Audio Connection, Alloy Wheels-19in M Light Double-Spoke Style 326M, Bluetooth Telephone Preparation With Telematics, Hill - Start Assistant, Electronic Windows - Front and Rear with Open/Close Fingertip Control, Anti-Trap Facility and Comfort Closing Function, For Full A Spec Feel Free To Contact Our Sales Team, VIEWING BY APPOINTMENT ONLY, Part Exchange Welcome, Finance Available, Debit And Credit Cards Taken

    • Mileage: 53000 mi
    • Engine size: 2.5
    For sale
  • BMW Z4

    £16,800 £16,800

    Service history Anti-Lock Brakes,Climate Control,Air Conditioning,Remote Control Alarm,Power-Assisted Steering,Driver, Passenger And Front Side Air Bags,18In M Star 325 Alloys,Traction Control System,Park Distance Rear,On-Board Monitor,Seat Heating,Electric/Heated Door Mirrors,Immobiliser,Headlamp Wash,Front Seats Sports,Front Armrest,Front/Rear Electric Windows,Remote Central Door Locking,Steering Wheel Mounted Controls,Front Head Restraints,Bluetooth Interface Telephone Equipment,Centre Console,Electronic Brake Force Distribution,Front Seat Belt Pre-Tensioners,Gear Knob Leather,Heated Rear Screen,Ipod Preparation,M Sport Package,One Seat - Front Seat - ISOFIX Anchorage Point,Radio/CD/MP3,Rake/Reach Adjustable Steering Column/Wheel,Sport Chassis,Textile Floor Mats,Tyre Pressure Control,Xenon Headlights Exterior Lighting,Extended Kansas Leather interior, Call us today about the finance options on this vehicle. Part exchanges welcome.

    • Mileage: 23335 mi
    • Engine size: 1997
    For sale
  • BMW Z4

    £18,999 £18,999

    Variant name:28i sDrive M Sport 2dr ,Derivative:M Sport ,Variant: 28i sDrive M Sport 2dr EVERY SINGLE VEHICLE THAT CROYLAND CAR MEGASTORE RECEIVES IS NOT ONLY CAREFULLY SELECTED, BUT IS PREPARED TO THE HIGHEST STANDARD. FOR BOTH YOUR COMFORT AND SAFETY, ALL OF OUR VEHICLES ARE MECHANICALLY INSPECTED, HPI CHECKED AND FOR AN EXTRA BONUS, EVEN COME WITH 12 MONTHS ASSITANCE / BREAKDOWN COVER VIA THE AA, COMPLETELY FREE OF CHARGE. FOR MORE DETAILS, VISIT OUR WEBSITE WHERE YOU CAN FIND OUR LATEST NEWS AND STOCK. DON’T FORGET THAT WE ALSO ACCEPT PART EXCHANGES AND OFFER LOW RATES OF FINANCE.

    • Year: 2015
    • Mileage: 15958 mi
    • Engine size: 2
    For sale
  • BMW Z4

    £19,995 £19,995

    18'' Alloys, Service history BMW Z4 2.0 28i M Sport sDrive 2dr (start/stop), SERVICE PACK TILL 2019, 2014 (14 reg), Convertible, 18,193 miles, Manual, 1997cc, Petrol, Upgrades - drivers airbag, passenger airbag, 6 speed gearbox, abs, esp, electric folding hardtop, electric mirros, power steering, remote central locking, Red Full leather interior, Standard Features - Air Conditioning Automatic w. 2-Zone Control, DAB Digital Radio, 18in Light Alloy Star - Spoke Style 325M Wheels with Run-Flat Tyres and Locking Wheel Bolts, Rain Sensor With Automatic Headlight Activation, Start - Stop Button with Chrome Detail, Tyre Pressure Monitor, Bluetooth Hands - Free Facility, Kansas Leather Upholstery, Electric Windows - Front and Rear, with Open/Close Fingertip Control, Antitrap Facility and Comfort Opening Function All Round via Key, BMW Professional Radio with Single CD Player (with MP3 Playback Capability), Auxiliary Input Point for Auxiliary Playing Devices and USB Audio Interface, Alarm System (Thatcham 1), On - Board Computer (OBC). 2 seats, White, MOBILE NUMBER 07813 541959, £19,995

    • Mileage: 18193 mi
    • Engine size: 1997
    For sale
  • BMW Z4

    £4,995 £4,995

    Air Conditioning, Full Leather, Stability Control, Power Steering, Adjustable Steering Column, Electric Mirrors, Electric Windows, Colour Coded Body, Central Locking, Air Bag, ABS, Radio, CD Player, Metallic Paintwork, Height Adjustable Seat, Sports Seats, Locking Wheel Nuts, Remote Alarm, Due In Soon, Twin Air Bags, Alloy wheels, Full service history Drives brilliantly and in super condition. Just two owners from new the last of which was for the last 13 years. A beautiful example that you would be hard pushed to find again.

    • Mileage: 46500 mi
    • Engine size: 2171
    For sale
  • BMW Z4 SDRIVE 35I ROADSTER 3.0 2DR 306 BHP MANUAL. LEATHER. BMW SERVICE HISTORY. LOW MILEAGE. LEATHER. 59 2010

    £14,490 £14,490

    A FANTASTIC LOW MILEAGE CAR WITH OVER GBP 3500 WORTH OF OPTIONS. FULL BMW DEALER SERVICE HISTORY. HEATED LEATHER. XENONS. PARKING SENSORS. This car comes with a full BMW main dealer service history - last serviced at 30,251 miles, next due in 2018. Mot to 01/2018. Deep Sea Blue metallic with full Canberra beige Kansas leather interior. Adaptive Xenon headlights with High beam assistant. Front and rear acoustic parking sensors. 3 stage heated leather seats. Electrically operated seats, drivers side with memory. Bluetooth phone preparation. Loudspeaker system - BMW Professional. Dual climate control. CD player, RDS Radio with auxiliary input and USB audio interface. Electric, heated, folding and dimming door mirrors. Ash grain fine wood trim with high gloss finish. Extended storage. Through loading storage bag. 17" Turbine 5 spoke alloy wheels with locking nuts. Daytime running lights. Soft close boot. Auto lights and wipers. Automatic dimming rear view mirror. Voice control. Front centre armrest. Multi function leather steering wheel. Headlamp wash. Drivers information system. Multiple airbags with passenger deactivation. ISO fix. Electric windows. Carpet floor mats. Remote central locking with alarm and immobiliser. 12V power point. Cup holders. 2WD. 2 keys. Fantastic condition. HPI checked and clear. Finance arranged. 0121 457 7644 www.incentivecars.co.uk

    • Mileage: 35370 mi
    • Engine size: 2.979
    For sale
  • BMW Z4 3.0i SE 2005

    £5,995 £5,995

    2005/05 BMW Z4 3.0i SE Roadster;Automatic;Petrol;106,000 miles;Full Service History;Black Metallic Bodywork;Coral Red Heated Leather Upholstery;Electric Memory Seat Adjustment;Rain Sensors;Automatic Headlight Activation;Xenon Headlights;M-Sport Suspension Pack;M-Sport Alloy Wheels;;Even at 12 years old, this car still has tremendous desirability due to it's looks, handling and the sensational 3.0 litre six cylinder powerplant. Grab a future classic while you can!;;GBP 5,995.00;

    • Mileage: 106000 mi
    • Engine size: 2.979
    For sale
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